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December 31, 2012 @ 1:58 pm
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Unrestricted Free Agent Bennett Wants To Remain A Buccaneer

Written by Scott
Reynolds
Scott Reynolds

Scott
Reynolds

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Re-signing Buccaneers defensive end Michael Bennett, the team's leading sacker with nine in 2012, should be Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik's top priority this offseason. The good news for Dominik is that Bennett is eager to return, which should help contract negotiations.
The Buccaneers finished the 2012 season with just 27 sacks, but could potentially lose their leading sacker this offseason. Defensive end Michael Bennett, who recorded a career-high nine sacks and accounted for nearly a third of the team’s quarterback captures this year, is poised to become an unrestricted free agent in 2013.

Re-signing Bennett is one of general manager Mark Dominik’s top priorities this winter, and upon the conclusion of Tampa Bay’s 2012 campaign, which ended with a 7-9 record due to Sunday’s 22-17 win at Atlanta, Bennett wants to return.

“Of course I want to come back,” said Bennett, who had 41 tackles and 19 tackles for loss in 2012. “I want to see what happens when [Da’Quan] Bowers gets healthy, when A.C. (Adrian Clayborn) gets healthy – just to see where we could be as a group. I want to be back because I’ve been here a long time and I’ve grown with the Bucs. It would be a great chance to be back and play with these guys.”

Bennett, who has amassed 98 tackles, 15 sacks, four forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries in his four seasons in Tampa Bay, would prefer to have a long-term deal from the organization, but didn’t seem opposed to having the franchise tag being placed on him.

“I don’t know,” said Bennett, who signed a one-year deal worth $2.742 million as a restricted free agent in 2012. “I haven’t thought that far as far as being franchised or it being a long-term deal. You know, ultimately you want a long-term deal, especially with this team and the way it’s going. They have all these young guys here making big plays. I’m just looking forward to the draft and the players they are going to bring in.

“I’ve got a great relationship with Mark. He’s helped me grow as a player, especially him and Raheem Morris. I love those guys and what they did for me.”

Rams defensive end Chris Long, who is slightly more accomplished than Bennett, signed a four-year, $50 million contract extension with $27 million in guaranteed money this offseason, so it’s a safe bet that Bennett will be looking for a deal that will pay him between $7-11 million per season.

If Bennett and Dominik cannot agree on a long-term contract extension, the Bucs could always use the franchise tag on him. The problem with tagging Bennett is that would require a lot of cap space for one player, as the 2012 franchise number for defensive ends and cornerbacks was $10.6 million. That was the second-highest franchise number behind quarterbacks, which was $14 million, and only slightly ahead of offensive linemen and wide receivers, which was $9.4 million.

Bennett said he hasn’t had any discussions with the team about a contract extension yet.

“Not that I know of for sure,” Bennett said. “They deal with my agent and I hear about it at the end. Whenever they ask me I’ll be up there talking to them.”

One of the wild cards in any contract negotiations with Bennett is the fact that his brother Martellus, who is a tight end with New York, will also be a free agent in 2013 after signing a one-year deal with the Giants, and the two want to play together as they did in college at Texas A&M. Bennett caught a career-high 55 passes for 626 yards and five touchdowns this year and the Bucs could use a tight end as starter Dallas Clark will be an unrestricted free agent this offseason.

“Playing with my brother would be one of those great things to do, but ultimately I have to do what is best for my family and he’ll do what is best for his family,” Bennett said. “If he does come here or if we do play together [somewhere else] it would be nice.

“Of course he would like to play in Florida – it’s nice weather out here. But he loves New York. It would be great to play together, though.”

Martellus Bennett would prefer to stay in New York and have his brother become a Giant and join New York’s defensive line.

Bucs Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said that re-signing Michael Bennett should be among the first thing Dominik does this offseason to ensure that he remains in Tampa Bay.

“I think it should be one of the first priorities with how he has prepared each week and how hard he’s fought the four years he’s been here,” McCoy said. “He was great for us this year. It will be huge for getting us where we want to be.”

With nine QB captures this year, Bennett just missed on becoming the Bucs’ first double-digit sacker since Simeon Rice last accomplished that feat in 2005.

“There’s always a goal of trying to do something that hasn’t been done in a while, but I can’t complain,” Bennett said. “As long as we got that last win, that was the most important thing. As long as we win, that’s all I cared about. Getting double digits would have been a nice thing, but we played a great game yesterday. Hats off to everybody doing a great job.”

Both Bennett and McCoy also want to see unrestricted free agent defensive tackle Roy Miller re-signed during the offseason. While Miller doesn’t have gaudy statistics with just 23 tackles and a pair of tackles for loss, he does draw double teams and has been an integral role in Tampa Bay’s top-ranked run defense in 2012.

“Roy and I are the longest tenured defensive linemen here,” Bennett said. “I grew up with Roy. He’s my brother, just like Gerald is my brother. Roy does everything. He plays through every injury and he does everything the team asks him to do. He’s such a great player with the run defense being the way it is. There is no negative in his game. He took a lot of criticism last year like Gerald and he came out and performed at a high level.”

McCoy said Miller is underrated and is capable of being more than just a two-down run defender.

“Roy is the man,” McCoy said. “Roy takes a lot of slack off me with how he plays on first and second down. I think Roy can do a lot more than has been seen. Roy is actually, in my opinion, a pass-rushing nose guard. He hasn’t been put in that position so it hasn’t been seen. Roy is definitely a dominant force and I’m praying that he comes back for sure.”

The play of both Miller and Bennett helped McCoy have his first Pro Bowl season in which he recorded 30 tackles, nine tackles for loss, a career-high five sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. Against Dallas and Philadelphia, Bennett and McCoy fed off each other and teamed up to produce two-sack games apiece versus each of those foes.

“Nobody was happier for Gerald than me,” Bennett said. “To see him go through everything and persevere the way he did. Everybody criticized him for getting hurt, but people that criticized him obviously didn’t play football because in one movement you can get hurt. Gerald did the best thing he could do with closed ears and closed eyes and just played the way he played. I’m honored to play with Gerald everyday. I’m proud of him and everything he’s accomplished.”

McCoy and the Buccaneers hope Bennett can continue to be a part of Tampa Bay’s young and up-and-coming defensive line.

Last modified on Monday, 31 December 2012 14:54
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COMMENTS

  • avatar


    HET GUYS BENNETT IS UFA.THIS MEANS TAMPA MUST RESIGN HIM PERIOD THEN TRADING HIM FOR MORE DRAFT PICKS.LET'S KEEP HIM. LOOK AT WHAT TAMPA HAS THIS YEAR. TAMPA PICK #13 IN RD-1, THREY HAVE A 2ND,3RD PLUS 2 4TH RD PICKS A 5TH,6TH,AND 1 7TH RD. THE SEATTLE PICK WAS VOID BECAUSE SEATTLE CUT HIM BEFORE CAMP WAS OVER-NO 7TH RD PICKTHIS WHAT I WOULD DO.rD-1 BEST CB AT NO.13 PICK,IN RD-2 1 BIG WR,IN RD-3 AND I&OLB MAN,IN RD-4 TAMPA PICK AANOTHER CB,NE PICK BEST PLAYER AVAILABLE.RD-5-ANOTHER RB OR QB,RD-6 BEST PLAYER,RD-7 BEST PLAYER.
  • avatar


    I'D SAY ARE YOU KIDDING BENNETT AND MCCOY WAS TWO OF THE BRIGHT SPOTS ON THIS YOUNG DEFENSIVE TEAM. GM SIGN HIM NO MATTER WHAT IT COSTS HE DESERVES THE MONEY. TAMPA NEEDS TO LET WR4IGHT GO AND GIVE THAT MONEY TO BENNETT.HE'S ONE OF THE GOOD GUYS ON THIS BUCS TEAM GO BUCS GO. IAM REALLY LOOKING AT ALL THE NEW PLAYERS THAT WILL BE COMING TO THE NFL. I HOPE ONE OR TWO OF THOSE FSU DEFENSIVE PLAYERS WILL BE ON BOARD-GO BUCS
  • avatar


    Be creative! Trade Bennett as part of a draft day trade up to get Bjorne Werner and more picks.
  • avatar


    Here's my point and it's an order of magnitude. The Bucs must have cut and re-signed Wallace Gilberry 2 or 3 times before he eventually signs with the Bengals for 1 year/700k. He has 6.5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, and a TD. Only 2.5 sacks less than Bennett who may get 7mil. Guess it's the ole trash/treasure thing!
  • avatar


    Although I agree he shouldn't receive that amount I would much rather him have that contract than Eric Wright. Cut Bait Bucs!
  • avatar


    Correction: meant to type at least 7mil.
  • avatar


    Come on Guys, I agree we should not overpay Bennett, but you have got to remember who's cutting the checks at One Buc - the same guy that gave Trueblood 5mil, Quincy Black 5mil, and Wright 7.75mil. I will bet you that Bennett gets at least 5mil. Quiz - can you name that guy?
  • avatar


    Mike Bennett is one of Dominik's success stories coming here as a street free agent and not only earning a starting position (perhaps by default) but having a good 2012 season. But I hope we don't get carried away here. The guy was not a high draft pick and was released by the Seahawks for a reason. I remember Marcus Jones (1st round pick) was slow to develop then had one good season (13 sacks) so Richie McKay signed him to a big $ contract. He was never the same again and wound up in that UFC fiasco. I hope Dominik signs Bennett but he's a good, not an elite player.
  • avatar


    Scubog I with you.
  • avatar

    I disagree with you Horse. Bennett deserves a new contract and he will be a target by other teams. We have no one on that line who can rush the QB, other than him. Give him the money and build around him. Clayborn will be back and that will help, but we have a huge hole in the middle.
  • avatar


    I really do believe that some players deserve some new contracts like Johnson, Dotson, Meridith as they really came thru when we needed them. Who else can name some others?
  • avatar


    Phan2phear, Horse and EastEndBoy I couldn't agree more. I was getting frustrated just reading that we might pay Bennett that much. Like Horse said, we drafted Bowers who was the top rated DE in the draft when healthy. Bowers has been productive in a backup role as he continues to recover from his injury. I could see Bowers winning the starting job next year with his pass rushing skills, although Bennett getting 19 TFL's is very impressive. It should be the best competition in camp next year, but don't pay Bennett elite DE money before he even proves whether he is better than Bowers.
  • avatar


    if we pay Bennett that kind of money - nearly as much as VJAx is making ($11m) - Dom should be fired on the spot. I like Bennett too, but get serious...he will be a part time DE for us next year with Bowers and Clayborn back...again I like him, I want him back but the figure has to make sense too.....think of what we could add to the team for $7-11m per year.....maybe it's supposed to say $7m per year for both Bennett brothers...
  • avatar

    Miller should be anywhere from 1.4- $2 mill per year. Remember the guy only plays two downs. 4 yrs, $7 million should be about right.
  • avatar


    So the Gm is going to pay more than 7,000,000 for Bennett? No thank you. Didn't we draft Bowers for that position? I think I would draft a pass speed rusher than sign Bennet for more than 5,000,000. Our pass rush defense was awful.
  • avatar

    These estimated contract numbers for Bennett are way out of order by pewter report, compared to other 4-3 DE's. Ignore the Chris Long comparisons. Check these guys: Ray Edwards 5 yr $30 million 16.5 sacks over 2 years prior befoe signing contract in 2011. Cameron Wake 5yr, $34.53 million 28 sacks in 3 years prior to contract. Chris Clemons 3 yr e $21 million. Avg 11 sacks in 2 yrs prior to contract ext. Justin Tuck 5yr, $30 million 10 sacks in 3 years and missed a year. Bennett has 15 sacks in 4 years. These guys did this and changed games and won pro bowls. Bennett has done neither. For an example of where the contract should be look at a guy who had a big year and cashed in on his success in Jason Babin who got a 5 yr, $27.5 million contract. Expect Bennett's to be similar. Babin had 12.5 sacks that year. Bennett barely has that in 4 years. His contract should be $4 to $6.5 million each year. Im thinking 5 year $27.5 million is more than fair. It more than doubles his salary going froward!
  • avatar

    have the bucs considered hiring a different defensive coordinator? rod marienelli would be a perfect fit.
  • avatar


    A very rich Buccaneer, mind you!
  • avatar


    Love this guy if he's not a buccaneer man I don't know who would be. Dom has always bragged that he's never lost anyone he's wanted to keep - hope he sticks to that and resign both Bennett and miller.
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